Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan Says More Troops Likely to Head to Border

US delays returning asylum seekers to Mexico
AFP/File Sandy Huffaker

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Friday that he expects there will be more U.S. troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border, as the situation there worsens.

“First of all, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’ll provide more support to the border. The way I tend to frame that is: Our support is very elastic, and given the deterioration there at the border, you would expect that we would provide more support,” he told reporters at the Pentagon before a meeting with the German defense minister.

He said the support would likely be the same as previous deployments.

“In terms of the type of support it will be in the form that we provided,” he said.

He said the Pentagon has not received any formal requests for more help from the Department of Homeland Security, which would initiate the request for more assistance. But, he said, “We’ve been having a number of conversations with DHS.”

Shanahan said a planning team for border support would be in the building on Saturday, and would follow up with where the Department of Defense is on barrier construction, on troops deployed, and what types of preliminary plans should be done prior to receiving a DHS request for assistance.

The military has about 5,000 troops at the border — 3,000 active duty and 2,000 National Guard members.

Last week, the Pentagon awarded nearly $1 billion to two construction companies for border construction in El Paso, Texas, and Yuma, Arizona.

Shanahan authorized transferring the money from the Army to a fund that can be used to construct roads and fences and to install lighting to block drug-smuggling corridors across U.S. borders in support of counter-narcotic activities of law enforcement agencies.

According to a recent report by Task & Purpose, Shanahan may also tap military construction funds to pay for border construction.

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